The Great Intellinux
Little Clara is on stage. Romana spots her when the Time Lady and the Doctor enter the theater presenting Timothy Surrell's interactive performance piece. It's called Opium Transistor Transitions. The show is rated G. These alien visitors have arrived because the pair appreciate Art. Both are also suspicious.
“I met that little girl outside when we arrived,” Romana tells the Doctor.
“Her name is Clara.”
The Doctor replies “Clara, the most popular name in the universe.”
Romana is wise and she asks the Time Lord “Is that true?”
“I meet girls named Clara all the time,” he reports. “Sometimes they're boys.” Up on stage, Clara faces from a full audience – there are no available seats so the Doctor and Romana stand near the front exit. All three look into a video monitor that wraps around either side of the girls' face. The girl's seated location is spacious and might easily accommodate a full grown man.
The spaces over her head and below her chin are open but those place are not where everybody looks. The audience and Clara watch the center of a flowering, patterned wallpaper displayed on the screen. Don is there with her. The stout man is a gallery attendant and he presents this show.
He narrates “Like all great men, Mr. Surrell wrote the software for this momentous piece in his garage.”
The Doctor mumbles “It doesn't matter where one writes a novel.”
“Shh.” Romana names him. “Critic.”
Don informs the audience “How can I describe this piece? Transcendental hallucination. I know, that sounds as oblique as the title. It's experiential television. Like 3D, it's been around since the invention of the vacuum tube. Unlike that extra dimension, Surrell's visual masterpiece demonstrates its concepts work. The GI Vault firm makes the genius of this wonderful artist commercially viable. This will be in everyone's homes, kids.”
“This is how it starts,” the Doctor whispers to Romana. “I remember something related to televisions from the future.”
She asks him “What, thought insertion?”
The pair at the back of the audience listen to Don speak. “I apologize the Binger gallery presents this singular station. Technically, a screen like this one might stretch around an audience, this audience.”
“Our volunteer, Clara, is first then we'll form a line. If we had a bigger screen, we could allow everyone to experience transcendence all at once. The GI Vault is working on that. They have a huge viewing chamber at the Cupertino office. I've seen it. It's bigger than IMAX. Injected with Surrell's opium, it is so much better.”
The Doctor says to himself “That's new.”
“Let's get moving,” shouts an unidentified man from the audience.
Don replies “My thoughts exactly.”
The gallery attendant moves toward a scalped DVD player and presses the Play button. From the perspective of the audience, seated attendants spy changing images. Bass pink and sea foam green predominate the colors. The forms are indistinct, at best from this distance.
Clara doesn't budge but Don insists the girl experiences “Tame bliss. There will be no trouble out of this one. Eager pleasure seekers can start a queue at stage left. Everyone can have a turn.”
“Don't go up there,” the Doctor tells Romana.
“Why not?” she wonders.
Don speaks the same time. He says “It helps to close your eyes when you exit a painting.”
The Doctor continues speaking with his companion. “It won't work on us, for one. Two, the experience will be unrewarding.”
The larger audience hears only the gallery attendant. He now uses a microphone. “Clara, honey. Just look up or down or turn around. You'll step out of the painting.”
The little girl follows Don's instruction and spins around. The quick movement prompts her mother. The woman calls from the audience at stage left. “Clara, did you close your eyes?”
“Shut up,” she tells her mother. The audience responds with giggles, groans and an ear-splitting “Tsk.”
Romana tells the Doctor “That's not the little girl I met outside.”
Coming off-stage, Clara slaps away her mother's hand. The woman grabs hold of the girl's arm and they hustle up the aisle. They go out the door the Doctor and Romana stand near.
The Doctor says to his companion “Let's follow her.”
While the Time Lords leave, Don tells a building queue “Step into the field of vision, your peripheral vision is tricked and you'll see the world wrap around your head. You are unable to interact with outside while you're in the painting..”
Out of the theater and inside the Surrell presentation, Clara tells her mother “I hate you.”
“What has gotten into you?” her mother demands from her daughter.
Following them as the related pair tromp and are dragged toward the exit, Romana comments “That's what I'd like to know.”
The Doctor explains. “She kept her eyes open. That can cause psychotic behavior.”
His companion asks “So soon?”
“Will she recover?”
The mother and daughter leave the Binger gallery. Both are out of sight until the Doctor and Romana are outdoors. Clara stands at the curb while her mother waits for traffic lights to change. She will not cross the street until she is presented with glowing letters. Watchful, her attention remains on the crosswalk. Clara stares at a dog – a yellow mutt, possibly a Labrador mix.
The animal stands next to the little girl. It pants and wags its tail. And the friendly creature does not belong to Clara or her mother. Un-bothered, the girl loosens the leash holding the animal to a metal sign post. When the dog jumps up and tries to thank the girl with a gooey tongue, she stomps her foot.
The frightened animal bolts into traffic and it is hit by a passing truck. The vehicle does not stop and Clara's mother gasps. The whole time, Clara laughs.
“No one will recover soon enough,” the Doctor shouts. The Time Lord feels enraged. The mad man grabs Clara's hand and pulls the girl back toward the Binger gallery.
Romana cautions him. “Doctor, that's kidnapping.”
The little girl doesn't make a sound. Although, her mother hears Romana and is curious. She turns around. At first, she is as quiet as her daughter. The mother is stunned silent with her mouth hung open.
“The Zero Room,” says the Doctor. He is tired of the girl's resistance and he scoops her into his arms. Her mother then screams.
“Stop,” Romana yells at the woman.
The mother gasps “My baby and screams again.
More sympathetic, the Time Lady claims “It will be all right. The Doctor is helping her.”
The Doctor vanishes into the gallery when the mother catches her breathe. The woman then shouts “Police,” over again.
“Please,” Romana insists. “Stop, let me explain.”
When the woman does not quit, the Time Lady grabs the lady's ears. She clenches her jaw and squints her eyes. Next, she knocks her forehead against the woman's own.
Both ladies rub their heads. The woman moans but she sounds amazed. The only harm she displays is a red mark above her brow. “Oh.”
“Get it?” Romana asserts and vigorously massages her scalp a last time.
“Yes,” answers the mother.
Romana summarizes an explanation. “Time lords are telepathic. Us knocking heads helped give you a bump.”
“I know who you are...”
“Yes, this is a gift either our races may develop but the Doctor and I see the future, all possible futures.”
Seemingly forgetting her abducted child, the mother is more curious about Romana's abilities. “What do you with that knowledge.”
Romana grabs the woman's hand and takes her back into the gallery. Inside, she escorts the mother to the TARDIS. On the way, the Time Lady answers questions. “It's easier to nudge an outcome toward the probable, but the Doctor, he likes to try the impossible.”
Before the women go into the blue Time Machine, Romana tells the other “Let's see if the Doctor was in time. I hope he helped Clara.”
“Oh, me too,” the mother says before she steps into the painted wooden box. Inside, her statement changes into “Oh my.”
“Yes, big,” Romana tells the woman and tugs her through the console room.
Past the opposite threshold, the women appear outside the Zero Room inside the TARDIS. The Doctor stands inside this antechamber of stoic zen. Peace feels as thick as salt water. Clara floats atop its surface. The little girls sleeps and floats prone in the air.
Without even a glance at his company, the Doctor says “The people of earth is very fortunate this little girl suffered her trial. We might have never discovered this mind.”
“Clara's mind?” Romana asks him.
“No, a powerful force, an ancient evil,” purports the Doctor. “I don't know what nether god is waking up, but it must be stopped.”
He adds “Clara is fine. She only needs rest.”
“Is that why the TARDIS brought us here?” asks Romana.
“Yes, otherwise we'd have been busy doing nothing at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.”
Afraid to touch her daughter, the woman Romana has brought into the TARDIS speaks to the Doctor. “Thank you. Oh my goodness, thank you.”
The Doctor turns around and removes his flopping hat. “Oh, hello. I'm the Doctor.”
The woman gushes “I know.”
“You do?” asks the Doctor. The Time Lord looks at his companion. Romana taps her forehead with a knuckle and winches. Her companion concludes “Well, I suppose that was an emergency.”
He looks back at the mother. “Your little Clara is fine now.”
“Thank you,” she answers.
“And your name?” he asks. Romana shrugs.
The mother tells them both “Juanita de Anza, Juani.”
Excited, he then recommends “I do think she should come with us. You, too.”
“Where are we going, Doctor?” Romana asks.
“Wait here,” he instructs her. “I'll come right back.”
“Where are you going?” his companion asks the Doctor before he leaves the Zero Room.
He answers from the Console Room. His voice is full of static. “My hunches are coming true.”
All alone, the Doctor races toward the theater housing Timothy Surrell's Opium Transistor Transitions. The artistic masterpiece has proved itself dangerous. The Doctor didn't like the look of machine. He wanted to examine the software and find whether bytes were programmed to take darker paths through a conscious computer network.
Denied his inspection, the Time Lord intends he will escalate his intervention. Indeed, he has been forced. He will dismantle the electric chimera. This beast must be slain.
Upon swinging open the frosted glass theater door, the Doctor shouts. “Get out! You are in danger.”
The theater is nearly empty. No one sits in the audience and the short queue to see the magic inside a modern piece of art fits completely upon the stage. The gallery attendant, Don, looks toward the open exit where the Doctor stands.
He urgently asks “Is there a fire?”
After a pause and a grimace, the Doctor replies “Yes.”
He asks people on the stage “Has anyone kept their eyes open when they've left that trap?”
“Hmm?” he inquires when nobody immediately answers. “Don't. In fact, clear off.”
Nobody moves, so the Doctor yells “Fire!”
Everyone scrambles off the stage. People run toward emergency exits and up the aisle. The Doctor greets and passes the thin crowd while they run and he descends toward the stage. He and the gallery attendant meet on the flight of stairs at stage left.
“There is no fire, Don.”
“No, we have to destroy this wicked contraption.”
Don stutters. “What? This machine is priceless. It's a masterpiece.”
“Then I imagine it is insured,” the Doctor replies and pushes past the gallery attendant.
The Time Lord surmounts the stage where the Opium Transistor Transitions stands alone against his wrath. He produces a sledge hammer from a coat pocket. Noticing also he is scrutinized by the attendant, the Doctor tells him “I have very deep pockets.”
All the electronic components of the artwork are then smashed. Chips and other digital bits fly everywhere.
“Oh, you should disconnect the power,” the Doctor tells Don when a fire does ignite upon a broken motherboard. The gallery attendant stands mute and watches the destruction.
The Doctor stops hammering a moment and asks the attendant “Don, were there other children here today? I didn't see any other child.”
Don question his own answer. “No?”
“Don, this is important.”
“No,” he avows.
“And everyone followed your instructions? They closed their eyes when they exited the machine?”
The gallery attendant does not reply this time. The man squints and thinks. Sweat beads everywhere on his face and the neck of his shirt grows soaked. After a moment in which the Doctor steps uncomfortably close and stares directly into his face, Don makes a decision.
“I'm calling the police.”
Little Clara then calls from the front exit. “Doctor?”
“Sorry, Doctor,” Romana tells the Time Lord when she enters the theater behind the girl. “She got away.”
The curved and blank video centerpiece breaks into static. Everyone in the theater is drawn to witness the change. The Doctor shouts at Don while licks of fire creep over the electronic parts. “I told you to unplug the equipment.”
“Do you know what you have there, Doctor?” warns a shadow in the static.
Don can't help himself and he lets slip the words “My God.”
Simultaneous, the Doctor speaks to the two-dimensional figure. The Time Lord announces “An innocent little girl.”
Also that moment, little Clara's mother appears behind Romana. All three girls stay in the doorway at the back of the theater. Don goes nowhere. The gallery attendant stands with his arms limp. He's seen the women and the little girl and stays to watch the animated screen.
The Doctor tells the face “I know who you are - Yog-Sothoth, the Spheres of the Qliphoth.”
“The Great Intelligence,” the face specifies.
“Where have been?” asks the Doctor. “We haven't so much had a conversation is four hundred, five hundred years.”
“I've always been here. I am everywhere.”
“Well, where there is power.”
After the statement, the static-filled monitor blanks into flat black. Don has unplugged the Great Intelligence. “Good show, Donald,” praises the Doctor.
“The Don,” answers the gallery attendant.
“You're one of us, that's what counts,” the Doctor tells the man and claps him on the back.
Romana disappoints the Doctor. “We're not done with that.”
“Oh, I know. Clara is safe, that's good for now. She and her mother can come with us to Helsinki.”
“Yes, I've got an idea for a trap. We'll set the snare in the operating system. Linus will help us.”
The plan perplexes the Time Lady. “Linus Torvalds? Doesn't he live near here?”
“Not in nineteen ninety-six.,” he answers. “We must lay this trap before the nether god hurt our poor Clara. We will not waste bait.”
“Bait?” asks the girl's mother.
Romana assures her. “It's already happened.”
The Doctor says “She'll be fine, she is. Come along, everyone. Let's not waste time.”
Ms. de Anza says “But,” then she goes with the Doctor and Romana. She brings her daughter. The Don stays on stage alone and slaps out flames with his gray suit jacket.
“Thank you,” the Doctor tells the man when the Time Lord pokes his head back into the theater. Don waves him away.
( continued in episode 3 )
- Matthew Sawyer